I Want to Believe

I Want to Believe


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Where were you on January 26, 2015?

If you were like me, you were reading about Tom DeLonge, pop-punk poet of the puerile and penile, leaving Blink-182.

And if you were like me, you were even more dumbfounded to discover the true reason for DeLonge’s departure from the band: he was heading up his own organization to search for life on other planets, the To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science. The organization would be a multi-faceted effort to discover if the truth was really out there. Its mission was not just about science, however. It would also publish a science fiction book series, sell branded gear and have a hand in a History Channel television series.

Sounds like an insane midlife crisis or PR stunt, right?

There’s just one thing, though. It’s real. The team at To the Stars was responsible for the publication of some very strange videos taken by Air Force pilots in the New York Times — videos that were officially released by the Pentagon earlier this year.

In other words, Tom DeLonge and his team got the United States government to admit they’ve seen unidentified flying objects — and even got them to show the tapes.

Now, is it difficult to trust one of these naked men when he tells us he has information about a paradigm-shifting discovery for the human race? Yes. But one theme that has come up throughout the interviews we did for this episode is consistency. And if Tom keeps up this track record, we’ll have to trust him.

But maybe we should have believed Tom all along. After all, there’s a pretty great song on “Enema of the State” called “Aliens Exist.”

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Consistency Gets Results

Jerome Ternyck is a lifelong student of trust and influence. As founder and CEO of SmartRecruiters, Jerome works to maintain trust with his team every single day. But he learned some of his first lessons about trust and influence while serving as an officer in the French military.

Jerome, the author of “Hiring Success: How Visionary CEOs Compete for the Best Talent,” oversaw a number of young soldiers during his service, including their training. These moments are critical, he says, for instilling trust in young soldiers as well as introducing them to the military culture and expectations of combat.

And while Jerome was the ranking officer, he noticed two things that stood out when earning his team’s trust. The first was consistency. But the second was something perhaps more important: how he used the trust he earned. “How you use this leadership is what people look for — knowing where to push people and how far to push people,” he says.

But when you earn that trust, Jerome says, you can help people accomplish more than they realize they can. “I actually discovered about myself and about many others, that your personal limits are a lot further than where you think they are,” he says. But the only way to make that push successfully? You have to earn trust.

“You get people to trust you by being very consistent.”

If You’re Talking, Then You Better Be Walking

Jennifer J. Fondrevay is the founder of Day1Ready, a consultancy that specializes in the human capital challenges of mergers and acquisitions. She is the author of “NOW WHAT?: A Survivor's Guide for Thriving Through Mergers & Acquisitions,” and her work has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, amongst many other outlets.

Mergers and acquisitions often create crises of trust at businesses, and so do difficult economic periods — our present one included. The pandemic has shown the importance of a few critical actions that help maintain trust in a crisis. First is the importance of demonstrating empathy and humility. The most effective leaders Jennifer has seen over the past few months were leaders that relied on outside experts to persuade people to change their behaviors.

But the second action is even more important. If leaders want to maintain trust, they’ve got to do more than speak. Their actions must match their words. In other words, talk the talk — but make sure you’re walking the walk. “Demonstrate through your actions what you expect others to do,” Jennifer explains. “The leaders who haven’t been successful said one thing, but they didn’t apply that to themselves.”

“Nothing undermines people’s trust in you more than if what you do doesn’t act in parallel with what you say.”

Don’t Take Trust for Granted

Laura Bartlett is the founder of House of Coco, a travel publication based in London. As the manager of a group of travel influencers, Laura has been facing a particular dilemma herself: how can she maintain influence in a space that, for all intents and purposes, currently does not exist in any meaningful way?

The answer starts with trust. Many of Laura’s competitors turned themselves into resources about COVID-19. There’s no doubt there are only the best of intentions behind this, but overwhelming your readership with information they can find at numerous other outlets is a surefire way for your audience to tune out. “That’s not why people came to you,” Laura points out.

Instead, House of Coco offered free content online to share pieces of the world with their readership. For example, they’ve been featuring chefs from hotels worldwide, showcasing different types of cuisine. Content like this still meets their readers’ needs, while also creating engagement — after all, it’s a space where readers trust House of Coco.

“I think what it means to be an influencer right now is being someone that can be trusted.”

People Featured in This Episode

Additional Resources

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Rex New is a multimedia content producer. When he’s not driving his coworkers bonkers with extremely detailed feedback, he can be found in Jackson, Wyoming, snowboarding in the winter and biking and hiking in the summer. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California and received a Writers Guild Award nomination for co-writing “Dance Camp,” YouTube’s first original movie.


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